by John Bell
The ultimate sport fishing experience of a lifetime is coming to the historic Bimini Big Game Club Resort and Marina in April 2014, a 22-boat billfish team tournament that not only will give anglers a shot at a $20,000 top cash prize but also a chance to fish with a Pro Football Hall of Fame Player or NFL Legend.
The Hall of Fame Players Classic Foundation, a registered non-profit, today officially opened registration for the two-day tournament scheduled for April 24-27, limited to just 22 boats. This boat/team tournament is open for up to four registered anglers per boat. Each registered boat will include a NFL Hall of Fame Great or NFL Legend.
(Participating players will be announced after the first of the New Year).
Several sponsorship levels are available including the title sponsorship.
The catch and release only tournament, which will adhere to IGFA Tournament rules, will target all billfish species, including Blue Marlin, White Marlin, Sailfish, Spearfish and Swordfish. Awards will be presented in the overall angler and team categories and additional awards will be given to the high point boat each day.
-- Blue Marlin 500 Points
-- White Marlin 200 Points
-- Spearfish 200 Points
-- Swordfish 200 Points
-- Sailfish 100 Points
Team prize money categories are First Place $20,000, Second Place $10,000 and Third Place $5,000. The top two teams will also receive a free entry in the 2015 Billfish Tournament. Other award categories include first, second and third place for billfish angler, first blue marlin, last blue marlin, top lady angler, largest dolphin, and largest tuna.
Additionally there will be a Fun Fish Division, which will not count towards the overall billfish award(s) with first, second and third place team prizes.
The NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame Players Classic Foundation Celebrity Billfish Invitational will be a one-of-a-kind billfish tournament combining hard driving bluewater action with a chance to fish with the best of the best from the NFL, according to tournament organizers.
Host to numerous major sport fishing tournaments for more than half a century, Bimini is a world-class fishing destination, ranked number three in the top ten fisheries of the world by Sport Fishing Magazine.
From the Lucayan Indian word meaning 'two islands', North and South Bimini along with its smaller cays, is an internationally known destination for generations of angling and diving enthusiasts.
Bimini—less than 48 miles east of South Florida— has been and remains the gateway to the Bahamas, a portal to adventure and experience perched at the edge of a sheer underwater cliff and the eastern edge of the mighty and mythical Gulf Stream.
Legendary angler and western novelist Zane Grey and his captain, Tommy Gifford, recluse billionaire Howard Hughes and retailing genius turned scientist/naturalist Michael Lerner heard the call of Bimini.
Ernest Hemingway was an early apostle to the Bimini experience in the 1930s, where he drank, brawled and wrote his way through several fishing seasons, traveling back and forth between home in Key West and his beloved 'Island in the Stream'. His creative workshop was the Compleat Angler and his characterizations came from a world populated by giant blue marlin, bluefin tuna and schools of sharks almost too large to count. With his literary acclaim and sporting prowess, Hemingway, together with countless other kindred spirits, established Bimini as the Big Game Fishing Capital of the World—home today to some 50 world record catches and counting.